Last Tuesday, I went to two palaces in Seoul, Deoksugung (덕수궁) and Changgyeonggung (창경궁). It was raining, cold and even windy, but still palaces were beautiful and I had good time.
My first schedule of the day was Seoul City Walking Tour, which is run by the city of Seoul. It is free (!) and there are more than 20 tours available. I reserved Deoksugung & Jeong-dong tour on the website, http://english.visitseoul.net/walking-tour.
Tour started at 10 in the morning. We met in front of the ticket office. Original admission fee is 1,000 won (1 USD only!), but it was Royal Culture Festival week, so it was even 500 won. Almost free!
Tour lasted for 2 hours. I had lunch and then re-entered the Deoksugung palace to visit to the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA). MMCA has 4 branches and one is inside Deoksugung. I went there for the exhibition of Pen Varlen 1916~1990. Admission fee was 3,000 won.
I had not known Pen Varlen before this visit to the gallery. He was Goryeoin (ethnic Koreans in Russia and Central Asia) and born in Russia and spent most of his life in Saint Petersburg.
He stayed in North Korea in 1953-54. The Soviet Union sent him to help North Korea re-establish the art institution.
In the evening, I headed to Changgyeonggung. From time to time, palaces in Seoul offer night tours (except Deoksugung which is open till 21:00 every day, but closed on Mondays). Koreans must book tickets on the internet in advance, but foreigners can buy tickets on site.
I love visiting palaces in Seoul. There are five palaces in Seoul and all of them are located in the center of Seoul. City center is usually all about skyscrapers, which can be nice, but not always. Palaces are well preserved and have green spaces and historic buildings, which means they are great places for walking.
When Gyeongbokgung, the main palace, opens its night tour next time, I will definitely visit there. I have been there a few times, but never in the night. I am looking forward to a night picnic in another beautiful palace.